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Judge closes off-licence for selling to teens

GARDAI have vowed to continue an undercover operation against off-licences and pubs that sell alcohol to children.

The declaration comes after a prominent north inner city off-licence was ordered to be closed for two days and its owner was fined €750 for selling alcohol to an underage boy in a garda sting.

Dermot Maher of the Talbot Off-Licence, at 33 Talbot Street, Dublin 1, was convicted at Dublin District Court last Friday.

At the hearing, it emerged that a boy, with a female garda, entered the off-licence at 8.40pm last October 26 and bought four cans of Coors lager.

The purchase was made as part of an ongoing operation at Store Street Garda Station.

"This operation will be ongoing throughout the summer and gardai are satisfied at the serious view that the courts take of this type of activity," a senior source explained.

"If people who run these premises sell alcohol to underage teenagers, they risk being firmly out of pocket if they are caught."

Any licence holder found to be breaking the law will be prosecuted, fined up to €5,000 and closed for up to 30 days.

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Test purchasing was introduced by former Justice Minister Dermot Ahern in 2010.

Under the scheme, young people aged from 15 to 17 are recruited by gardai using the force's contacts with schools, youth clubs and other organisations.

The young people and their parents must consent to taking part, and they are not paid.

During test purchases, a young person goes into a pub, club or off-licence and tries to buy alcohol.

They are watched by an undercover garda.

If they are sold alcohol, they walk towards the exit, where they surrender the drink to a second garda, who is waiting at the door.

When the licence-holder is prosecuted and the case goes to court, both gardai give evidence.

The young person who carried out the purchase will, in most cases, not be needed to attend court.

The teenagers cannot be made to look older by styling or make-up.

They cannot lie about their age, and once they are refused service they must abandon the test purchase without coaxing staff into a sale.

kfoy@herald.ie


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